Dry Mouth, Dry Fanny: Here's What Type One Diabetes Does To Your Sex Life
The Debrief: Sex logistics can be hard enough, but adding Type 1 Diabetes into the mix brings it to a whole other (sugar) level
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels and therefore requires insulin to be injected or pumped into the body manually. It’s extremely important to stress that not all Type 1 Diabetics will experience any form of sexual dysfunction. You’re just way more likely too - that’s all. And I guess that’s just our bad luck. But having Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t mean you’re destined to have terrible sex. It just requires a bit more admin, or Dadmin as I like to call it (diabetic admin). For with good blood sugar level control, can come great sex. Mars bars and all…
No I’m not referring to a new sexual position, I’m talking about when I was 17 and my Diabetic Health Nurse suggested that whenever possible I should try and do a blood test before getting down to it. Nothing like ruining the mood then…and for afters? That I should consume a Mars bar (let’s not get carried away - only a fun size one!) in order to prevent me from going hypoglycaemic or ‘low’ i.e. when your sugar levels drop and need to be treated immediately. And worryingly for me, it can easily happen after or - god forbid - during, sex. So making sure that doesn’t happen is kind of a big deal. Because there’s nothing less sexy for the guy you’ve just slept with than him having to either to rub glycogel (a sticky, sugary hypo remedy) on to your gums or, him having to ring an ambulance because you’ve passed out because of a hypo. Right guys?
The poor boy would probably think he’d killed me. He’d probably wish he had after all that.
And although you might be thinking an obligatory post sex mars bar? How continental! I can assure you that it really isn’t all that fun permanently feeling like a walking vending machine on nights out and neither are the many other potential sexual complications associated with having Type 1 Diabetes.
Thrush isn’t just any old thrush…it’s Diabetic Thrush
Thrush is extremely common in people with Diabetes as high sugar levels lead to a better condition for the yeast to grow. In my experience thrush is like a mugging of my vagina. It comes swiftly and silently. A THRUSH ATTACK. It has even lead me to hospital in order to get stronger treatment than what’s available over the counter. It is excruciating, I cannot even sit still, let alone have sex.
For ages I didn’t realise how bad it was internally, that was until I started crying during a speculum examination because it hurt so. fucking. bad. My thrush had developed into vaginitis - which meant my vagina had become irritated and inflamed along with all the other exterior thrush symptoms - and so any sexual encounters around that time were either incredibly painful or just a complete disaster. Needless to say my swollen and angry chamber of secrets remained firmly closed. And for a good while it really did put me off sex altogether…
Dry like the desert…
Type 1 Diabetics can also often have trouble with vaginal lubrication and clit arousal which can lead to pain during sex or a lack of interest in having it. I’ve experienced the dryness a few times but only when my blood sugar levels have been high - particularly after a night out when I’ve had one too many jaeger bombs which are packed with sugar. And let me tell you, a dry mouth and dry fanny makes for an miserable blozza and an uncomfortable time all round.
There is also evidence to suggest that Diabetic women are more likely to find it harder to orgasm. I’ve totally experienced this myself particularly through penetrative sex, but then again, so have tons of my friends who don’t have Diabetes, so it might be a case of pot luck with this one.
What’s with all the bruises?
Another thing I often struggle with is the bruising all over my body. I have a minimum of 5 injections a day and it’s a rare occasion that I don’t find at least one injection bruise on me. These can be anything from tiny marks, to huge, ugly gun shot looking wounds. It’s a small thing, but it doesn’t exactly make me want to tear my (mismatched) underwear off because it feels like one of the big giveaways; a sign that there’s something not quite right with me.
Perhaps my biggest hang up about Type 1 Diabetes and sex is the whole diabetic disclaimer. When do you tell someone, especially if it’s someone you’ve only just met? Does a night with me need to come with a health warning and little leaflet telling a boy what to do if the worst were to happen? And crucially, will it put him off me?
I think, the answer is to get over yourself. Or myself rather. No you don’t have introduce yourself as a chronic disease sufferer when a guy offers to buy you a drink, but if you start to feel like you’re going low then for god’s sake say something. Because your health is everything, and 20 seconds of awkward chat could potentially save a hell of a lot of embarrassment or even your life, later.
And you never know, he might be really into Mars bars and glucose tablets…
(NB Other chocolate bars are available/acceptable.)
For more information on Sex and Type 1 Diabetes visit Diabetes.co.uk
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